We all have at least one Christmas that we remember well; sometimes, it’s more than one and they’ve sort of melded together in our memories.
Regardless of the veracity of those memories, they’re still comforting to us in one way or another. I’m going to talk here today about one such memory of mine; a Christmas from long ago. It was probably in 1965 or so. I was about 4 years old at the time. I can still remember the Christmas tree. I remember my dad sawing the bottom off of it and mounting it on a homemade stand that he’d just made. It seems to me that it was cool and sunny out in the backyard that day, but that could just be how my mind wants to remember it.
Dad brought that tree inside and helped my brother and mom shift some furniture around; the old 25″ Zenith B&W console, in particular. He stood that tree up in the corner where the TV had recently been. I remember him sitting on the chair in the living room and making sure that all the bulbs were tightly screwed into their sockets on the string of Christmas lights. He then plugged the string in to the wall socket to test it. It didn’t light. I heard him mumble under his breath, “This lousy son of a bitch!”
Have you ever seen the movie A Christmas Story with Darren McGavin? In that movie, when Ralphie narrates about his dad cussing out the old furnace, I was in tears laughing. It gets me every time I see it because that was definitely my dad there doing that cussing. My dad was definitely proficient in profanity. I inherited the talent from him, actually. So, yeah… dad mumbled and cussed a bit about that light string not working on the first try.
You see, back in those days, the lights were wired in series. If one bulb went bad, none of the others would light. You had to check each bulb by removing it and sticking in a known good one. If you were lucky, you had spent a few extra dollars and bought the clear colored glass bulbs and not the painted ones. With the clear ones, you could actually see into the bulb to see if the filament was broken. Dad hadn’t spend the extra money; something we didn’t have much of back then.
Dad finally got all those lights working. The rest of us decorated the tree. It was beautiful. We didn’t consistently have a tree in my home in later years, but I still remember this one in particular; the smell, the tinsel, the spray on snow, and the blinking lights. There’s nothing that can put one into the Christmas spirit faster than sitting and looking at a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree. I still enjoy Christmas trees to this day.
I remember going to bed on Christmas Eve wondering what Santa was going to bring me. I recently created a new Christmas Season banner for one of my online boards. It says, “Here’s wishing you that wide-eyed childhood joy during this magical season.” It’s a shame, but most of us lose that joy in adulthood. We should all try to recapture it if even for a short while during this time of year.
I awoke bright and early Christmas Day to find all kinds of great stuff under the tree; from Santa, mom, dad, and my brother. There was all kinds of good stuff. I got a bunch of Matchbox cars, some toy soldiers, a real U.S. Army surplus backpack and army helmet (that I still have, actually), a toy rifle with a real wood stock and metal barrel (not made in China), and lots of other little things. It was one of the happiest Christmases of my life. Everything in my world was just right. That’s a feeling worth recapturing also, for sure.
Have yourselves a VERY Merry Christmas this year!